Rick Nagel
Gov. Kevin Stitt nominated Rick Nagel to the OU Board of Regents on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (NonDoc)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has nominated Acorn Growth Companies CEO Rick Nagel for a position on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. If confirmed, Nagel will fill the seat previously held by Chairman Gary Pierson, whom Stitt appointed in 2019 after the death of another regent.

“Rick Nagel is passionate about education, and his extensive knowledge of the aerospace industry and evolving economy will help ensure the University of Oklahoma is producing graduates who are qualified and ready to enter our workforce,” Stitt said in a press release this morning.

Nagel, 49, is a Norman resident who holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the OU College of Engineering. After initially joining Acorn Growth Companies’ advisory board in 2004, Nagel now serves as managing partner for the company, which invests in aerospace, defense, intelligence and space projects.

“I am honored that Gov. Stitt has selected me for this important role to serve my alma mater,” Nagel said in the press release. “My whole life has been dedicated to making sure children are ready and able to become productive and successful members of our society, and I look forward to using my industry expertise to help align our higher education system with our state’s 21st century economy.”

Nagel’s bio on the Acorn Growth Strategies website says he serves as the treasurer of the campaign committee for U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) and that he launched Acorn Growth Companies’ private equity practice.

“Since [he joined] Acorn, the firm has closed more than 30 transactions in areas that include advanced manufacturing, government IT services, defense electronics, engineering services, aircraft financing and leasing, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), maintenance repair overhaul, modernization and upgrades, radar, satellite communications, airborne logistics, air cargo, value-added distribution, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and counter unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS),” the bio states.

Acorn Growth Companies is heavily involved in the unmanned aircraft (or drone) sector, and in 2019 it purchased Black Sage Technologies, which created a product to identify, classify, track and defeat unmanned aerial system threats for military, government, law enforcement and civil applications.

‘He has a track record of success’

OU President Joe Harroz said Nagel fits the board well.

“We are delighted and honored to have Rick Nagel join the OU Board of Regents,” Harroz said. “He is a distinguished alumnus and civic leader, and his professional success reflects well on OU. Our university and our profound purpose will be well served by his keen acumen and counsel. I look forward to working together.”

Norman Chamber of Commerce CEO also praised Nagel’s selection.

“I met Rick while we were students at OU, and we have been friends ever since,” Martin said in Stitt’s press release. “I can’t think of a more qualified or prepared person to serve on the OU Board of Regents. His character and experience are huge assets to the mission of our university. He has a track record of success in business and is a leading expert in one of Oklahoma’s top industries, aerospace. Likewise, it’s great to have someone from Norman who cares passionately about this community and how it partners with the University in this capacity.”

If Nagel is confirmed by the Oklahoma State Senate, he will serve a seven-year term on the board.